Lennard D. Gerson's The Secret Police in Lenin's Russia is the first full-length study in English of the early years of the VCheka—the acronym of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission—and its successors the GPU and OGPU. In the course of his research, Professor Gerson has examined many unpublished Soviet and Western official documents pertaining to the origins and development of the secret police.
During the formative period of the Soviet state, the VCheka served as the guardian of the Bolshevik dictatorship. It crushed hundreds of popular uprisings, sealed Russian borders, secured transportation lines, and suppressed numerous anti-Bolshevik groups. There was hardly any area of Soviet life which escaped its surveillance or was immune from its repressive measures.
Although this is essentially the story of a political organization, it is also the story of two men, one famous, the other until now relatively obscure: Vladimir Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky, who headed the secret police until his death in 1926.
The Secret Police in Lenin's Russia is both a case study of political terrorism and a thoroughly researched analysis of a neglected aspect of Soviet history. It is necessary reading for anyone concerned with the history of political repression in our century.